Category Archives: Cities


Click here to find hotels in Xi’an

Xi’an (??; pinyin: xi an, Wade-Giles: Hsi-An, literal meaning: “Western Peace”) is the capital of Shaanxi province, in China and a sub-provincial city. It was one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China because it has been the capital of 12 dynasties such as Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang. Xi’an is the eastern end of the Silk Road. The city has more than 3,100 years of history. It was called Chang’an, meaning “Perpetual Peace”, in ancient times.

The city is surrounded by a well-preserved defensive wall.

The Tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi and his Terracotta Army are located outside the city.

It is the sister city with Kyoto, Japan and with Pau, France. Its GDP per capita was

Hong Kong

Click here to find hotels in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, shortened as Hong Kong (??, pinyin: Xianggang, Cantonese: heung1 gong2, meaning Fragrant Harbour), is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, consisting of a small peninsula attached to China’s southern coast and 236 islands in the South China Sea, of which Hong Kong Island is the second largest and Lantau the largest.

Under the policy of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’, Hong Kong enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy from the Mainland, continues to have its own currency, customs and immigration, legal system, and even its own rule of the road, with traffic continuing to drive on the left.

Although it was occupied since at least as long ago as the Neolithic Age, the territory of today’s Hong Kong remained distant from the major events unfolding in imperial China for most of its history. It did not begin attracting worldwide attention until the 19th century.

Occupied by the United Kingdom during the First Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded by China the following year under the Treaty of Nanking. Parts of the adjacent Kowloon Peninsula were ceded to Britain in 1860 by the Convention of Peking after the Second Opium War. Various adjacent lands, known as the New Territories were then leased to Britain for 99 years from July 1, 1898, the lease expiring on June 30, 1997.

Pursuant to an agreement signed by the PRC and the UK on December 19, 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the whole territory of Hong Kong under British colonial rule became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC on July 1, 1997.

In the Joint Declaration, the PRC promised that, under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy proposed by Deng Xiaoping, China’s socialist economic system would not be practised in Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters, except foreign affairs and defence, for 50 years, until 2047.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is headed by Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa as head of government. Mr. Tung assumed office on July 1, 1997, following his election by a 400-member committee appointed by the People’s Republic of China, whose president serves as head of state for the Hong Kong SAR. He was nominated by the majority of members of a broadly representative Election Committee in February 2002 and was returned unopposed for a second term which began in July 2002.

Legislative Council elections were held in May 1998 and again in September 2000. According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s “Mini-constitution,” the Legislative Council has 24 directly elected members; the other 30 members are either appointed or chosen by occupational constituencies, with six being elected by a special Election Committee.

The 1998 and 2000 Legislative Council elections were seen as free, open, and widely contested, despite discontent among mainly pro-democracy politicians that the functional constituencies and Election Committee elections are essentially undemocratic because so few voters are eligible to vote. The Civil Service maintains its quality and neutrality, operating without discernible direction from Beijing.

The Right of abode issue sparked debates in 1999, while the controversy over Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 was the focus of politics in Hong Kong between 2002-2003.

Towards the end of 2003, the focus shifted to the dispute of how subsequent Chief Executive gets elected. The Basic Law’s Article 45 says the eventual goal is universal suffrage; when and how to achieve that goal, however, remains highly controversial. Under the Basic Law, the earliest the constitution could be amended to allow for this is 2007. Democratic reform movements have caused repeated clashes with Beijing, with Beijing now claiming for veto power over any proposed reforms

Hong Kong consists of 18 districts:

Central and Western
Kowloon City
Kwai Tsing
Kwun Tong
North District
Sai Kung
Sham Shui Po
Sha Tin
Tai Po
Tsuen Wan
Tuen Mun
Wan Chai
Wong Tai Sin
Yau Tsim Mong
Yuen Long

The name “Hong Kong” is derived from Hong Kong Island in the South China Sea, at the mouth of the Xi Jiang or Pearl River of southern China. Other territories that were later added include the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, which include over 200 surrounding islands. The landscape is fairly hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, with the highest point being the Tai Mo Shan at 958 m, though lowlands exist in the north.

Of the total of 1,092 km

Macau, City of Portugal and China

One doesn’t usually picture China and think of Europe. Yet there is one region of this Asian powerhouse that definitely fits that image: Macau. Sometimes called Macao, this peninsula less than 62km from Hong Kong is second only to that great city in its western aspect. For over 300 years, until just a few years ago, it was dominated by the Portuguese. Churches, museums and much more show that influence.

One of Macau’s great, old church’s is just ruins now: The Ruins of St. Paul’s. Built in 1602, it was run by Jesuits for generations. Made of taipa and wood, the main portion was burned in an 1835 fire. Though only the front stone facade remains standing, there is still ample evidence of what was once a magnificent structure. Well worth a look when you visit this fascinating city.

But one church first built around the same time is still very much in existence. St. Augustine’s Church, named after one of the founders of the Catholic church, was first erected in 1586. The present building dates from 1814 and houses a number of worthy sights. The high altar clad in marble is only one. The magnificent colonnades are still another. But one of the chief attractions is a statue of Jesus at the center of the altar.

The Guia Fort and Lighthouse is another popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Completed in 1638, it is located at the highest point in Macau. Though much of what was once an island has been flattened over the centuries, with the land becoming connected to the mainland, it nestles up against one of the few high hills of the region. It once housed a barracks and ammunition dump, but every part is worth a look, the lighthouse in particular.

The Macau Maritime Museum is a must see, given the strong influence of the sea on this coastal city. Opened just over 20 years ago, it is believed to be sited on the original landing point of the Portuguese who grew to dominate the island. There are numerous displays of Chinese and Portuguese history, a combination you won’t find anywhere else.

But probably the most common attraction, and one of the finest, is the many casinos housed on Macau. There are dozens of gambling houses and, unlike some in parts of Asia, are meticulously maintained. They’re colorful, cheerful and provide Vegas-style excitement.

Located at the mouth of the Pearl River delta, the casinos dot the area with delights to be found nowhere else in this well-known tourist destination. Filled with visitors both from Asia and Europe, as well as locals, here’s where the nighttime action is in Macau.

Come find out for yourself how this jewel off the coast of China has transformed itself from the shady, crime-ridden image found in old films into a modern playground where East meets West.


Click here to find hotels in Tianjin

Tianjin (??; pinyin: tian jin, Postal System Pinyin: Tientsin) is a harbour municipality in China on the Hai He River (from Beijing) and Bohai Gulf of the Yellow Sea (Pacific Ocean). The placename literally means “the Heavenly Port”.

Tianjin is one of four independent municipalities in the People’s Republic of China with provincial-level status. Historically, the city was, for a time, the capital of Hebei Province.

The city was first settled in 1404 AD during Ming Dynasty as a fort, named Tianjin Wei (Fort Tianjin).

Tianjin County was established in 1731.

The city was opened to foreign trade in June 1858, at the end of the first part of the Second Opium War, when the Treaties of Tianjin were signed.

It has been municipality in 1927, except from 1958 to 1967, when it was reduced to a provincial city and capital of Hebei.

Tianjin is at the northern end of the Grand Canal of China, which connects with the Huang He and Chang Jiang rivers. Tianjin borders Hebei province, the municipality of Beijing and the Bohai Gulf of the Yellow Sea.

The GDP per capita was


Dunhuang (??) is a city located in an oasis in the Gansu province, China. Its population is 100,000.

It is located near the historic junction of the northern and southern Silk Roads, and was therefore a town of military importance.

For centuries Buddhist monks at Dunhuang collected scriptures from the west, and many pilgrims passed through the area, painting murals inside the Mogao Caves. Today, the site is an important tourist attraction and the subject of an ongoing archaeological project.

Rocked by waves of invasion, Dunhuang has previously been independent, as well as being ruled by both Tibet and China.

Dunhuang was made a prefecture in 117 BC by Emperor Han Wudi, and was a major point of interchange between China and the outside world during the Han and Tang dynasties.

Other neighboring attractions include:

Crescent Lake
Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan)


Urumqi (???? population about 1.6 million ) is the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, in the northwest of the country.

It is the largest city in the western half of China. The GDP per capita was

Best Way to Learn Mandarin in China

Since 2005, there are over 86,000 foreigners coming to China to learn Mandarin Chinese every year. As China’s economy rises in such rapid pace, it means the world has a new second language – Mandarin Chinese, the mother tongue and official language of China, a country with over 5000 years of ancient history. This is why more and more foreigners are coming to China to learn Mandarin.

The Chinese culture can not be described in a paragraph or two. With 5000 years of ancient history, there are traditional differences varying greatly between towns, cities, and provinces. For almost every town, city and province in China, there is a dialect specifically for that area, but every Chinese still knows and understands their official language as Mandarin (Putonghua). As for culture and food, everywhere in China is different as well. For example, the south of China indulges in seafood, and in the north, they indulge in meat.

There are many ways to master Mandarin in China. The most popular method is learning at a university. With proper teaching methods and the high quality teaching, you will be able to learn and understand everyday Mandarin within a semester.

When in China, one may see different people from around the world who are learning Mandarin in China all mixing in together, thereby offering a very colorful and multicultural environment. The advantage of this is that some students don’t speak English well, and so everyone is forced to communicate using Mandarin Chinese. With the university classes having an average class ratio of 1:23 teacher to student ratio, students not only learn Mandarin, but also have to the opportunity to learn about their classmates’ cultures and countries too.

In order to learn a language well, one must take as take into consideration and attention in 5 language areas – speaking, listening, reading comprehension, writing, and grammar. Since the teacher to student ratio in university classes is 1:23, some students find it is more effective to take Mandarin Chinese classes at a smaller private Chinese language academy, where teacher to student ratio is generally about 1:5, or find language exchange partners.

To learn Mandarin quickly, effectively and professionally, students can consider taking classes at a university in China or they can consider studying Mandarin Chinese at a private language academy. PRC Study offers programs and immersion packages to students who wish to
study Mandarin
in a university in China or private Chinese language academy. To find out information on the best way to study Mandarin in China, please visit PRC Study

Chinas Chocolate Market Dominated by Foreign Brands

Foreign chocolate brands such as Dove, Cadbury and Hershey’s have now captured about 70% of the Chinese chocolate market. As Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer with 25% of the global market, recently opened its first chocolate factory in China in Suzhou City, the top 20 chocolate companies in the world have now all entered the Chinese market. But in the face of global competition, China’s local chocolate companies have been further suppressed down the value chain.

Second largest chocolate market

As the CHF 4 billion-revenue-per-year Barry Callebaut set up its first production line in Suzhou, a complete multinational chocolate industry chain is also emerging. Industry insiders suggested that this would be a blow to local Chinese chocolate companies in this globalized competition. It further indicated that keeping up with international competition is particularly important, or the Chinese industry chain will become even more vulnerable.

In recent years, the global chocolate market has notably slowed down, with only 2-3% growth per annum. This is mainly because per capita chocolate consumption in developed countries is already at a high level, averaging 11 kg. On the other hand, China’s per capita chocolate consumption is only 0.1 kg, and its domestic chocolate market has been growing at a staggering 10-15% per year, with an estimated market potential of US$2.7 billion. Thus China has become the world’s second biggest chocolate market only behind the US. The world’s top 20 chocolate companies have all entered China, and there are more than 70 imported or JV chocolate brands in today’s Chinese market.

Barry Callebaut has made it clear that they are coming to share and participate in China’s economic growth. It plans to build the Suzhou factory into the largest among its 38 factories globally, and achieve a 6-fold sales increase in the next five years via the Suzhou factory’s high capacity. “We hope we can fully utilise this factory’s capacity to rapidly increase output from 25,000 tons to 75,000 tons, making it the world’s largest chocolate factory,” said Barry Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire.

Multinational ambitions

It is understood that Barry Callebaut’s new plant in Suzhou will become the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarter, as well as a sales network centre for serving China and multinational food manufacturers and specialised customers. Major brands, such as Cadbury, Hershey’s and Nestle, all currently have large quantity of outsourcing manufacturing contracts with Barry Callebaut, whose OEM output of cocoa liquor and chocolate products amounts to 15-20% of each of the three major brands’ annual output. So the Swiss Barry Callebaut is indeed the Big Brother of the global chocolate industry.

In fact, even before the arrival of Barry Callebaut, China’s local chocolate companies had already been losing market shares to multinational competitors. The US Hershey’s has determined to plough the Chinese market, planning to achieve 23% share of the local market by 2010 and the runner-up position in China. Meanwhile, Korean and Japanese chocolate producers are also accelerating their entry into the Chinese market.

Local companies not in the local market

Although the rapidly growing Chinese chocolate market is good news for its local chocolate companies, Chinese consumers today are frequently referring to foreign brands such as Dove, Cadbury, Hershey’s and Ferrero but seldom mentioning local brands.

As a foreign product, China only has a chocolate manufacturing history of less than 50 years, so there is inevitable gap behind foreign brands in terms of production techniques and technologies. Due to inappropriate processing equipment and incomplete production facilities, product quality assurance is difficult for many local chocolate companies. Furthermore, most Chinese chocolate companies are weak in product R&D, resulting in slow product changes and updates. At present, most local chocolate companies are stuck in an embarrassing situation of low product quality.

The above industry issues have costed local companies’ opportunities to participate in the competition for the Chinese chocolate market. Multinational chocolate brands have come to the Chinese market one by one since the 1990s, and now they are in a dominant market position. With their considerable financial power, multinationals can play their technological and cultural cards, as well as promoting their premium quality and unique tastes, to rapidly capture the Chinese market.

As Barry Callebaut finally entered the Chinese market, its Suzhou factory will make chocolate production even cheaper for multinational brands. For local Chinese companies that are mostly in the low-end market, they may no longer hold this market segment firm.

Keep up with the globalization

Statistics showed that there are about 63 large-scale local chocolate companies in China, with annual production of 150,000 tons. Statistics from industry associations also revealed that China currently has about 250 chocolate companies in total.

Industry insiders pointed out that the Chinese food and beverage industry is a highly and internationally competitive market. The vast potential of China’s chocolate market is not only for foreign brands, but is also laid in front of local chocolate producers. The local chocolate industry is now in a structural change and survival-of-the-fittest stage, and no doubt the entry of foreign brands will present challenges to the local industry. But if local chocolate companies can participate in this international competition, it could not only drive the chocolate demand from Chinese consumers, but also promote development of China’s chocolate market.

Local Chinese chocolate companies need to constantly improve their product quality, select finer raw ingredients, upgrade production facilities, adopt international technologies, enhance product innovation and brand management. Only then can they compete with multinational companies on a level-playing field, and make a breakthrough in this foreign-dominated Chinese chocolate market.

For more information on Chinese businesses, please visit

Top Dining Spots in Beijing

Experimenting with Chinese cuisine can be overwhelming, but it’s still worth it.

Top 5 Dining Street Locations in Beijing:

  1. Gui Street, near Dongzhimennei Dajie, in the Dongcheng District, is the largest and most famous food street in Beijing. Here you will find seafood specialties such as spicy lobster, spicy crab, pepper and chili prawns, and poached fish in pungent sauce.
  2. Wangfujing Snack Street, is south of Haoyou Department Store, near Wangfujing Business Street, in the Dongcheng District. Snack on crossing bridge rice noodles, smelled bean curd, sticky fruit on bamboo skewers and Xinjiang lamb skewers. If you’re really adventurous, sample the scorpion kebabs.
  3. Donghuamen Market, north of Donganmen Street in Dongcheng District, appeals to the senses. Try stretched noodles, fish ball soup, smelly bean curds, muttons, prawns, silkworms skewered and grilled, boiled dumplings and caramelized fruits on sticks.
  4. Longfusi Snack street, north of Dongsi Longfu Mansion, in the Dongcheng District is the place to try soymilk, fried dough rings, sausage or fried squid. Sweetened baked wheaten cake is a traditional treat here.

Top 5 Restaurant Recommendations in Beijing:

  1. Laitai Food Street, located across from Lady’s Street, is the newest food street in the city. Here you can sample foods from different regions and cultures: Cantonese, Sichuan, Japanese, Korean, Turkey, and Thai.
  2. Fangshan Imperial Restaurant at 1 Wenjin Jie, serves Court Cuisine, based upon 600-year-old-plus recipes favored by China’s former emperors in the Ming and King dynasties. This is a true dining experience, rich with ceremony, and with the option for an eight, 10, 12 or 36 course dinner.
  3. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, at 32 Qianmen Dajie, was founded in 1864, and is famous for its namesake dish. The chefs prepare roast duck on an open-door wood oven fueled by wood from fruit trees.
  4. Donglaishun Restaurant, near Tian’anmen Square, has been in business 100 years. Its signature dish, the lamb hot pot, is a staple among the Muslim communities of northern China. The restaurant also offers a variety of fried dishes including quick-fried mutton, minced chicken meat, roasted gigot and roasted duck, as well as flavored snacks such as butter fried cake and sweet walnut soup.
  5. Du Yi Chu Shao Mai on Qianmen Street, has been serving Beijing for 300 years and it is still a top spot among locals. The most popular dish is Shao Mai, steamed dumplings with the dough gathered at the top, and stuffed with vegetables or meat.
  6. LAN, on the 4th Floor at LG Twin Towers, Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang District, is one of the hottest, trendiest spots in Beijing, complete with Philippe Stark decor and 35 private dining rooms. There is a selection of meals from around the world that will appeal to all tastes.

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